LETTER OF THE DAY - Beat back corporal punishment

Published: Friday | December 20, 2013 Comments 0

THE EDITOR, Sir:

I think the creation of a parenting curriculum by the National Parenting Support Commission is a welcome development in the lives of our nation's children.

I am hoping that the powers that be will see the creation of the curriculum as an opportunity to tackle and eradicate certain undesirable, 19th-century, harmful Jamaican cultural norms about raising children, like beating them.

I am hoping that the authorities will closely examine the issue of parents disciplining our children and will recommend concrete alternatives to corporal punishment.

I know we live in a culture where even educated people pluck the words "spare the rod and spoil the child" from the Bible for literal application, but we also have all the available modern research that shows that physically abusing children is harmful to both the child and the parent.

Beating children not only actually physically hurts them, it can damage the psyche of the child, often ruptures and damages the relationship between parent and child, and ultimately teaches our children that it is acceptable to use violence to get others to comply with our wishes.

Harmful to parents as well

It harms parents because it gives them permission to allow their anger and frustration with the child to boil over into often severe violence against the child rather than seek a rational, tempered, effective means of disciplining a misbehaving child.

I know there will be many Jamaicans who insist that they were beaten by their parents with no ill effect. However, I would suggest to those individuals that there are many more Jamaicans who were deeply psychically scarred by being beaten as children, but as adults, have no idea that being repeatedly physically abused by a supposedly loving caregiver has shaped and/or warped the development of their personality and their adult relationships.

MARTHA BRAE

martha.brae@yahoo.com

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